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PRINCE RODERICK.

By James Brinsley-Richakds,

Author of ' Seven Years at Eton,' ' The Duke's Marriage,' etc.

VOL. 1.-CHAPTER VI

I was spared the trouble of requesting an audience from Prince Roderick the next morning, for he sent mo through an equerry an invitation to lunch with him at one o'clock. It will be remembered that before this I had to go through the ceremony of presentation to the Kiog.

King Franz gave private audiences twice a week, in the morniug. In one of the largest rooms of the palace were wont to asstmble all sorts and conditions of men and women, who had received, or were anxious to receive, favors from the Crown. They came to thank or to importune His Majesty. Officers on promotion, inventors, authors, widows, peasants, all presented their letters of audience to a chamberlain and sat down on velvet settees or roamed about, peering at pictures, until the aide-de-camp at the door of the King's study called out their names. Sometimes one saw rueful sprigs of nobility waiting to get a good wigging from the Royal lips, for His Majesty was very particular about the morals of his nobles, and he had been known to box the ears of titled youngsters who had misbehaved so as to cause public scaudel.

These Royal audiences were a precious corrective to the system of Parliamentary Sovernment which nominally existed at Lronheim. There are British subjects who have no more chance of ever getting a private talk with the Queen than they have of ascending to the summit of the Himalayas ; but in King Franz's dominions everybody who had anything to say worth His Majesty's attention could obtain a private hearing by asking for it. Except when people came in deputations, every person was received singly, and laid his business before the King alone—no minister or secretary being present. The KiDg would have stared at the doctrine that a constitutional sovereign should do nothing but sanction laws voted by a parliament. Parliaments pass, but kings endure; and there was probably not a man in the country but had more faith in tho sagacity and rectitude of old King Franz than in the word of his Ministers,

Sir George Malmsey joined me at ten o'clock in uniform, with the red ribai.d of a K.C.B. round his neck; and before he had finished shaking hands with persons of his acquaintance in the room our turn of audience came.

We were ushered into a large, welllighted study, with a carpet so thick that the heaviest tread of a cavalry boot would have been noiseless upon it. An elderly gentleman in military undress, and without a single medal or decoration, came forward, shook hands with Sir George Malmsey, and returned my bow. He had white hair, moustache and whiskers, a careworn face, and a keen but not unkind eye. "Well, Sir George, your fair countrywoman, Miss Meadowes, has left us," he said in English, for Sir George could not speak a sentence of German and King Franz disliked French.

"I was not aware of it, Bire," answered the British Minister, astonished, " Yes, she left yesterday evening to join her father." Then turning to me the King said in German,: " You are wearing the Egyptian medal, captain ?" " Yes, sire." " But you have left the army ? It's a pity—you must huv£ been a fine dragoon." That was all. A nod to me, another handshake to Sir George, and we both retired—the King turning his back so that he might not see our backs as we went out —such being the custom. " I say, that's something new about Miss Meadowes," remarked Sir George as we went downstairs to his carriage. " Had you heard of the matter ?'' " Yes, I saw Miss Meadowes off." " The devil you did !" Then with a pathethic outburst: "I'm hanged if I'm not always the last man to get a bit of news. I sometimes say to my young fellows at the Legation; 'lt's doosed lucky you've not got to act as retrievers, for, egad ! you'd Bring me my partridges Lor' knows when.' It's too bad, 'pon my soul, that things should be going on without my knowledge. Well, tell me about it—was there much squalling? Old Lady Springfield must have been in fits. I suppose Prince Roderick had bundled them both out—eh, what ?"

Sir George under his cocked hat shaped like a half-moon was a figure for a cartoon as he listened to as much of Isabel Meadowes's story as I thought it right to tell him. The fact that Isabel had gone of her own freewill, and that she repudiated all design of marrying Prince Roderick, was what I chiefly had to impress; and I did this without mentioning the clandestine circumstances of her departure. " D dif I believe a word of it," ejaculated His Excellency, "and Lady Malmsey will say the same. The Prince is a catch, and those two women set their heads together to trap him ; but he's a fox, and he's got away. Thank goodness for it, as I'm saved a deal of bother. But, egad ! I must write to old Springfield. This is certain to bring on his gout, and he'll be swearing at me through the telegraph wires."

I was never to learn whether Lady Springfield had gone into fits on discovering how Isabel had caused her schemes to miscarry. As a pebble drops into a pool, her ladyship disappeared from Sabelburg; but so little was known, even at Court, about the true facts of the case, that people continued to gossip for some days about the coming marriage. The * Badstadt Gazette,' always well informed, soon announced that the match had been broken off, but made political capital out of the affair by hinting that the prince had scared away his English sweetheart by his madness. It was by the reiteration of such charges as this, tending to show that Prince Roderick was a man whom no sane woman could tolerate, that accumulations were added to the load of unpopularity under which his foes hoped to crush him. Joe informed me just befoie luncheon time that Prince Roderick was going to Griinsee on the morrow. Mr Bobbs, the coachman, had received his marching orders, and was to leave town that night with some of the carriages and horses. " But he don't take many, sir, for it seems the prince has quite a separate establishment out there ; and most of the servants and horses here, they just remain in town for months and eat their 'eads off. I suppose we are going too, sir ?" *' I have not heard."

" I think we must be going, sir, for Mr Bobba said he was to take horses down for you." The movements of Royal princes never cause much disturbance in domestic arrangements, for everything is smoothly settled for them by the officers of their households. I was quite prepared to hear of Prince Roderick's removal to summer quarters, as in June few of the great families remained in town ; and, in fact, the prince had rather overstayed his usual date for departure. At the same time Joe's tidings were welcome, for it became obvious that the prince must to-day put an end to my Suspense regarding my duties in hiß service. Having to deliver Isabel's letter, I trusted I might find the prince alone, but he was in company with that young Count Richard Sonnenthal whom I have already mentioned as having shown friendly dispositions towards me at the equerries' mess. The three of us lunched together in a small room overlooking the garden; j and I perceived that the prince had invited Sonnenthal on purpose that he and I might become good comrades. There was no difficulty about that; but a few minutes were enough to show that Sonnenthal was nothing more to the prince than a rousing boon companion. His talk was all about, horses' hocks, ballet dancers' pirouettes, and coups at dcarte. He drank gaily at table, so did the prince ; but he could stand liquor and the prince could not. After two long glasses of beer and a bottle of ohampagne—for they mix .these, drinks in, Germany without compunction—Sonnenthal was as fresh as paint; but the prince was all flushed and much too talkative, though he kept his head. "I am going to take you to Griinsee to-morrow," he said in German. "You'll find the place dull, for we lead humdrum lives, My sister keeps house for me, and

our only amusements are music and fishing." "Your Royal Highness forgets the preaching," laughed Sonnenthal. " Oh yeß, you will get lots of that," said the prince. "My sister is very impatient to know you, and I hope you are well versed in theology, for she will put you through your facings. She collects the clergy of all the surrounding villages, and one after another they give us sermons on wet afternoons. Sonncuthal here has to sit and take notes. Do you paint or sketch ?" "Only a little, sir." "That would be a resource for you, as |we have good scenery. I saw you at the Opera the other day with Harold Crowe—an amusing fellow and a clever artist. J wish you could prevail upon him to conn with us and paint me portraits of some o; our peasants and their women-folk—amaz ing types, some of them." "Crow would like it above all things, sir," I said, and mentioned something ol what my friend had told me on this subject. " By all means invite him, Who ever heard of my refusing an artist permission to come to Giiinsee ? I don't take them to my place on the top of the Nebclberg, for they can't stand being dressed in bearskins and hearing the wolves howl at night, but everybody is welcome to GrtiDsee." "Harold Crowe will esteem it a great favor." " Write him a letter, then, in my name, and tell him our special train starts at two to-morrow." 4(te» kXd tkn nririM nnrl Sonnenthal

sat down to play {carta in a smoking room ornamented with trophies of pipes from all countries and times. Richly - jewelled chibouh, well-colored meerschaums, _ and

common clays smoKea Diactt as eoony, were all there. As I was examining the collection the prince said between two deals: "If you ever come across a curious pipe, better colored than any of those, just buy it for me." After an hour's phy tho prince had lost a couple of thousand marks (L 100), which he seemed to consider a mero trifle. He paid the money in bank notes which he drew from his pocket. Sonnenthal then took his leave, and the prince led me into his study. Here I at once banded him Isabel's letter. " I am much obliged to you for having escorted Miss Meadowes yesterday," he began before breaking the envelope. "Dr Grinzaner has told me all about it, and I aji glad that you should have been initiated into the details of this disagreeable business." So saying he proceeded to read the letter, standing. I could see that it produced an impression upon him. A forced smile came to his lips. He sat down and folded the letter, but reopened it and read parts of it again. This ho did more than once, and he talked absently, making remarks without catching my answers. At last he coughed and collected himself. His features were still red, and his eyes glistened. Apparently he was trying to ! throw off a weight of anxiety and succeeded, for his manner became cheerful and almost

! flighty. " Well, you will get ready to start tomorrow, please. I don't think that I have anything more to say than this at present, except that you will be my only secretary at Grunsee. Dr GriDzener remains in town, and perhaps he is going to leave my service." "It would be convenient if he_ could give me some initiation into my duties," I submitted. " There is hardly time for that, nor is it necessary. You will only have to answer letters according to my directions. Dr Grinzener, I believe, is going to have the offer of a high government appointment, and he can't refuse it without forfeiting his claims to promotion in the civil service which cannot well be done in this country. Perhaps I ought to tell you than Count Hochort is removing him from my service purposely, and I must add that the Prime Minister and I are not the bent of friends. Doubtless you have heard this ?" I could only bow. "I intended you should hear it," proceeded the prince. "I left you for so many days alone that you might pick up all the flying rumors a'>out me. No doubt you have heard some surprising things ; but you know about the man who 6aid he should like to hear the dog's version of a story. When we are alone at Grunsee you shall hear the dog's version." CHAPTER VII. Prince Roderick's summer palace of Giiinsee was one of the most enchanting places in Europe. It stood on an island about half a mile in breadth and two miles in circuit, close to one shore of a beautiful lake, famed in countless poems for its clear green water". The farther shore, five miles distant, was shaded by rocky hills with sloping forests of pine. Each hill had its ruined castle. Beyond the hills and far away rose ar» amphitheatre of mountains crowned all the year with snow. Between the island itself and its nearer shore the water was five furlongs inbreadth, and flowed gently like an emerald river. It was fed by springs which had their source north of the island, and were strong enough to form a current. This nearer shore was an undulating valley of pasture land, for the hilla that embraced the lake on three sides, like gigantic arms, joined hands at a point one hour's flight for a swallow from the water's edge. The island itself contained a park of noble trees and lawns for deer j a palace in the Italian Renaissance style witli tiers of terraces ; and gardens of several kinds designed with genius and kept with unremitting care. Flowers, fountains, orchards, groves, an aviary, hothouses, pretty pavilions and groups of statuary, charmed the eye wherever it looked. All this could be taken in at a glance from the balconied windows of the rooms which I occupied, but the prospect was ono at which no man could ever tire of gazing. It changed itß aspect with the time of day and the weather, but its beauty never altered. The saffron sunlight of morning, the orange tints of afternoon, the silver of the moonbeams or the grey mists of rain, brought one point or other of the scenery into prominence, but only to impress more deeply the grand effect of the whole. The eye found repose, the mind thought, and the soul peace in the contemplation. The view was now glorious in its brilliant coloring, now sombre in its dark shades, but always superb. The room in which I breakfasted at Grunsee faced the nearer shore, where there was a landing - stage with dazzling white marble steps. The prince's fairy steam-launch with red and white pennon and a swan at the prow was moored here, and across the green water came a gig with eight oarsmen in Greek sailor dress plashing their oars in a swift steady stroke. Several villas were dotted over the slopes of the valley on this side, and one of them, mantled with clematis and roses, belonged, as I waß soon to learn, to Mira Vogelsang.

Shortly after breakfast the prince sent for me. I found him no longer in uniform, but in a sort of Tyrolese Jager costume, which remained his habitual dress. His manner was subdued, and he must have risen early to write, for a great many sheets of foolscap covered with his handwriting were scattered over his desk. I subsequently learned that he was writing a book, partly autobiographical, which dealt very freely with German history and contemporary politics. The prince pointed to a small pile of letters on a side table and "You will have to answer a collection like that every day according to my pencilled instructions on the envelopes. If you find difficulties with the German, the qlerk in the secretary's office, who has been trained by Grinzener, will assist you. He can draft the letters and you need only sign them. For the rest, amuse yourself as you please. We have plenty of boats if you want to sail or row ; there are stables on the two shores of the lake, so that if you wish to make excursions you have only to telephone for horses or trap to be waiting for you when you land. As for tennis, you will find a first-rate court on the lawn under your windows. You and Crowe are too English not to have brought rackets with you." Harold Crowe's rooms were next to mine, and many a good game of tennis we had on the capital piece of ground which had been laid out for the purpose. Sonnenthal sometimes joined us, but our recreations were not much to his taste; he preferred billiards

when cards were not available, and after a day or two sought relief from what he called the furchtbare Traurighit of country life, by going to flirt among the villas and cottages of the vale. An innkeeper's pretty daughter, with two long plaited tails of hair, engaged a great deal of his time; and Harold Crowe, led astray by him, took an artistic fancy for a blue • eyed goose - girl with a patched petticoat, whom he sketched day after day until he turned her head. Events so shaped themselves, therefore, that I was left much alone. There was no common gathering at breakfast or luncheon ; and until the Princess Dorothea arrived with her ladies—two weeks after us—the prince

! did not always appear at dinner, i He led no life of seclusion, for I often : met him strolling about the grounds, and at such times he was always ready for a chat. He was very fond of feeding the birds in his aviary, aud would stand for au hour throwing breadcrumbs to peacocks, flamingoes, and golden pheasants, who kept on dry land, or to pelicans, swans, and ducks, who swam on a large artificial pond set with islands of rockery. Another of his diversions was to be rowed over the lake late in the evening. Hi 3 gig would be preceded at some distance by the steamlaunch, which carried musicians and sometimes a female singer on board. The musicians were Montenegrins, _ and very wild were the strains of their string instruments. The singer was generally Mira Vogelsang; and sometimes the crew of the prince's boat—these men were Greekswould catch up the song started from the launch. When the air was still, the songs would float from a long way over the water, anc' would reach me as I leaned over my balcony, often strangely moved. The prince always went alone on these excursions, but while making no mystery about them, never alluded to them. They gave him a pleasure which, no doubt, might have been spoilt by unappreciative observations or mockery. One thing which I speedily noticed was that whenever the prince went out of doors he was followed by a body-servant dressed in Jilger costume like himself, but armed with a short dirk which hung at his belt, and with an axc-headed mountaineer's staff. This man's name was Tristan—he was the prince's foster-brother, and somewhat like him hi face and figure. Tristan was in command of the keepers, sai ors, and watchmen, and under his directions the island was well guarded. There was not a soldier in uniform about the place, and not an officer except Sonnenthal; but some sailors always hung about tho landing-stage of the mainland and on that of the isle ; and after dark some of those who scraped the fiddle so well were stationed about the park as sentries. These Tristan inspected at unforeseen hours, always going his night rounds with an enormous mastiff called Hacko. Provisions and letters were brought to the island by the prince's sailors in a launch. Nobody was allowed to land on the island without permission being asked for and received through the telephone. There was not only a telephone m the palace, but a telegraph station and electric lighting. The house was fitted with every modem appliance for comfort, and furnished in modern style with the utmost luxury and with superlative good taste. It was not, like the palace in Sabelburg, Crown property, but Prince Roderick's own home, bought with his money, and furnished throughout under his orders. He was one day talking to me about his various residences, and remarked that ho took no pleasure in his tosvn palace. "I am not master there. The greatest extravagance prevails, but I am powerless to check it, for every servant has vested interests concentrated by usage from time immemorial. If I try to alter anything, I am brought into conflict with high stewards aud great chamberlains. Here at Grunsee I spend five time 3 less than in town, but then 1 can control my own accounts, and I employ mostly foreign servants." "Does your Royal Hiehuess find them better than natives'?" I inquired innocently. " It's not that; but the servants here are my very own," paid the prince. " I have brought them to this country, and can send them back. They have nothing to expect from anybody except me." Sallies of this kind, which were frequent in the prince's conversation, oincided little with the anedotes which Harold Crowe had told me about the wild doings at Grunsee. I recalled these one day 'as Harold and I were sitting under a tree after an hour at tennis, and he admitted that it looked as if somebody had been " laying on the coloring thick." " There's truth in the stories about the masquerading though. At the Swan Inn over the water you can see a picture taken from some illustrated paper, which represents the Roman JSte : and Lisbeth Riedl —she's Sonnenthal's flame—told me that she and her father, old Andreas, had to dress up two years ago in classic style and keep a popvia, in which they sold atrocious swipes and wine in earthenware jars with oil at the top. The fun lasted two days, and part of it consisted in doing without umbrellas when the rain came." " We have these fetes codumces in England. I don't see they are extravagant." "Nor do I, and I shouldn't mind helping to organise a novelty. Sonnenthal was present at one, and ho says they were something more than masquerades, for ail the guests were expected to learn parts and to enter into the spirit of the thing. People who said anything out of date, used spectacles, watches, pencils, or such things of our time, or who forgot themselves by blowing their noses in the nineteenth-century fashion, had to pay forfeits. It requires pretty severe study, mind you, to act up to character in parts like that." _ " And how about the gladiators and the mangy lion ?" " The lion exists, observed Harold. " He's somewhere in the park now, and they often let him loose at night." "To frighten the chickens into the poultryyard, I suppose." # "Probably. Lisbeth is my informant, and she says Bhe has often shivered under her bedclothes from hearing the beast's roar and wondering whether he wouldn't take it into his head to cross the water. I'll tell yon what," broke off Harold rising and making a ball dance on his racket, " Prince Roderick is our host, so he's a brick, but don't let us conclude that we've got his measure because we are leading a pot-aufeu sort of life while he shuts himself up to write his memoirs."

"How do you know he is writing his memoirs ?"

"He makes no secret of it. He intends, they say, to fire a big boom one of these days in a way to convince the world that his head isn't empty. I only hope for his Bake that he won't overshot his gun and make it burst." Saying this. Harold cut a ball over the net and added " A man doesn't get the reputation of Mephistopheles unless ho plays the deuce sometimes. I'm anxious to see what will be done with us—or at least with you—when the scribbling fit is over." I was curious too ; but at that moment I was thinking that I would go and try to get a look at the lion before dinner. I had noticed a circular building at an extremity of the island, and thither I bent my steps, whilst Harold went up to his room. An unmistakeable smell of menagerie revealed that this must be the den, and as I was going the round of the building to find the I entrance I came upon Tristan, alone and pensive, with his back to a door, and bis dog crouching at his feet. "Want to see the lion, sir?" he asked, saluting gravely. I said yes, and Tristan unlocked a door, admitting me at one step into a circus. It differed from ordinary circuses in this : that the auditorium consisted of only one circle of seats, and the arena was covered by an immense iron cage. The roof of the building was of glass, so that light poured in. No lion in captivity ever had a finer prison. There was space in plenty for rambling, an arrangement of tree branches for climbing, a cave for shade and retreat, and a thick flooring of sand. In the calm enjoyment of these luxuries a magnificent lion and lioness reclined side by side. " Are they only kept for show," I asked. "His Highness cannot bear to see wild animals caged," answered Tristan. "He eaw this lion in a menagerie jumping through flaming paper hoops, and he was so moved to pity that h6 bought him. _ It was impossible, however, to turn the animal into the streets or send him back to his home_ in Africa, so this place was built for him. The lioness was bought afterwards to keep

him company. Would you like to see the lion 10086, sir ?" "I don't mind." Tristan opened a gate in the cage, stepped in, and with a wave of his stall' sent the lioness growling into the cave. He then came out, held the gate wide open, and called to the lion, who at an easy trot ran by him and passed me through tlie passage and into the open air. Here he made for a plot of grass, turned round and stared. He was such an imposing creature in his well-fed sleekness that one could not but eye him respectfully. But when I saw this king of beasts shake himself like a poodle, scratch his left ear with his right leg, and finally roll himself on the grass with his four paws up, I could not help laughing. The situation was rendered additionally ludicrous by the of Hacko, Tristan's dog, who sheltered himself trembling behind me, and poked his nose sniffing between my knees. I Tristan, without a smile, made another j call to the lion, who uprose and advanced | till he stood between us, his mane touching | my hand. Hacko, with his tail between I his legs, had retired behind a tree, shiver- i ing.

Then Trißtan, who was a strong serious fellow with dreamy eyes, looked at me aud said : " It's not every man who would have shown your nerve, sir. If the priuoe be ever in danger, I hope we may stand by his side together." The compliment was agreeable; yet it was not without relief that I saw King Lion restored to the society of his grumbling wife.

( To be continued.)

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Bibliographic details

PRINCE RODERICK., Evening Star, Issue 8048, 26 October 1889, Supplement

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PRINCE RODERICK. Evening Star, Issue 8048, 26 October 1889, Supplement

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